Commentary on Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 School District 2020 Referendum & Spending Plans

Logan Wroge:

“I appreciate the cuts in central office because I want more people in the classroom,” said board member Nicki Vander Meulen.

Ruppel said the proposed reduction of school staff, which would be about 35 positions across a district that employs 4,000 people, is in response to expected short-term drops in enrollment due to lower birth rates, while still allowing schools to be staffed to reach optimal class sizes.

But under the two-budget scenario, which is partway through the planning process, base-wage bumps and new money for the district’s equity programs could vary depending on the outcome of a referendum.


In recent years, Madison School District referendums have passed with relative ease. Voters approved the last four referendums by at least a 2-to-1 margin.

The district has also found “broad support” (dive into the details) for both referendums proposed for the presidential election ballot, and an external poll of likely voters in November suggests the majority of voters in the district would support the referendums.

Drafts of both budgets will be released in April. The School Board will then take a preliminary vote on the spending plans in June before a final vote in the fall.

Notes, links and some data on Madison’s planned 2020 referendum.

“Madison spends just 1% of its budget on maintenance while Milwaukee, with far more students, spends 2%” – Madison’s CFO at a recent 2020 referendum presentation.

Projected enrollment drop means staffing cuts coming in Madison School District

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.